Author Archives: ari

The new EU copyright law takes a stance for rights owners like authors and publishers

2018-09-16

The Parliament of European Union has accepted the new Copyright Directive proposed by the Commission. The EU Parliament, Commission and Council will negotiate the details, aiming at having the law proposal ready for EU member states by the end of 2018. Although some details may still change, the overall purpose and objectives have been accepted by the Parliament. What does the new EU copyright directive mean for authors and book publishers?

boy reading in library, books on a shelf
The article 11 and article 13 are the most discussed items in the copyright directive. The directive includes many other important items, like making digital content product available across borders (inside EU), making it easier to deal with data mining in research institutions, and other clarifications for use of copyrighted material in academic and educational environments.

Author/publisher relationship in the article 12

The article 12 deals with author-publisher relationship directly, aiming at giving publishers more rights for compensation when a work is licensed, for instance, to a library. In many countries, libraries pay small fees to authors for book loans. Publisher don’t usually benefit from this. The directive wanted to make it possible.

Some national author organizations were concerned about the article 12 that it would have restricted author’s copyright, but the wording of the article was changed to clarify it before the Parliament voted.

Change of business model for news aggregators indicated in article 11

Some European countries, like Germany and Spain have already tried to make big internet service platforms pay for the content they extract from newspapers and other news sources. Often this involves the title, a snippet and a link to the page where the news was published. So far, attempts to charge news aggregators like Google have failed.

It may appear an innocent activity, but when companies, such as Google and Facebook do it on a massive scale, it is actually a good business case for them. Valuable free content that an algorithm only has to sort and display to visitors.

The new directive gives news publishers a strong negotiating position to charge news aggregators and other internet services that use publishers’ news items in newsfeeds and other functions of their sites.

Authors and book publishers who have blogs where they comment on news and link to news sources need to follow closely what the exact requirements and practices for free linking and referring to news sources will be as EU negotiations proceed. Linking to an external web page, and extracting text or photos from an external web page are two completely different things.

I have not been able to find anything in the EU Directive that would restrict linking to web pages, be it a newspaper or anything else.
Tavira, Portugal: a non-digital nomad in a park

It is business as usual for authors and publishers despite article 13

In the EU, a creator of a work (author, composer, film maker) always owns the copyright to the work. He or she can transfer (sell) the rights or partial rights to someone else, like a publisher. Anyway, the owner of the rights decides where, how and who can read, listen or view the work.

This basic principle of copyright law hasn’t changed at all, but EU wants to adopt Article 13 that enforces the rights owner’s rights specifically on the internet. The article more or less directly addresses dominant internet services, like YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia “service providers that store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users”.

EU’s point seems to be to make it absolutely clear that an internet service platform is responsible for all the content available on the service – user-uploaded or otherwise made available. It also makes it clear that all copyrighted works shared on a platform must have the rights owner’s explicit consent.

There are no grey zones anymore. The rights owner is entitled to a decent compensation if he or she has agreed that the work is made available on an internet service.

The curious thing in the article 13 is that it mentions “effective content recognition technologies” as a measure for preventing unlicensed content on a sharing service. Why on earth does it have to mention how a monitoring task can be executed? Leave it to the innovative businesses to create a solution. Hopefully this will be changed or removed during the negotiations.

For an author or book publisher, the article 13 is not earth-shattering news. If a copyrighted ebook has been uploaded to a sharing service, it has always been a copyright violation and the rights owner has been able to ask officials to intervene.

Online encyclopedias that have borrowed lengthy pieces of content from nonfiction books should look into their practices before problems arise. Also some fan fiction services may have content available extracted from fiction books. Right owners’ consent must be sought in each case.

The big fuss about the EU copyright law primarily concerns mixing and sharing culture

Most music makers, photographers, film makers, writers and publishers are happy to see a strong stance in favor of copyright protection, but some artists see risks in restrictions. The EU directive is trying to level the playing field between the rights owners (who can be a self-published author without any legal help) and internet giants that dominate search, advertising, social media and sharing services.

New works – music, films, books, photos – can be, and always have been, created using existing works more or less directly in the process. In the digital era, a new song can have the tune of “Every Breath You Take” but with new words and beat. Digitally merging old and new photographs or video clips is easy.

Sharing exciting video clips and funny photos or pieces of texts on social media is so common we don’t think about it anymore. Sometimes, someone has done a lot of work to produce that piece of work.

Loud advocates who want the current fuzzy situation to continue argue that preventing sharing or mixing is against freedom of speech and harmful for the entire internet.

It is true that EU’s new directive is straightforward with copyright owners’ rights, and eventually it will have an impact how sharing, mixing and news aggregation services operate on the internet. The services must change their processes so that all new content that becomes available on the site has cleared ownership checks, and if it is a copyrighted work, an agreement with its owner is in place.

Very little, if anything, will change because of EU’s new copyright law for an author who is writing his or her next book, or for a publisher that is investing in the production of a new book. The business model, after all, is still the same for them: produce an original work and market it to an audience that pays for the product.

Ereaders are growing bigger and more powerful: Icarus Illumina XL6

2018-09-11

Dutch ereader vendor Icarus has introduced a device with large 7.8-inch E ink screen that also has enough processing power to run a recent version of Android operating system. In addition to reading ebooks or viewing PDF documents, Android applications can be installed to the device, enhancing its functionality.
Icarus Illumina XL6, e-reader with 7.8-inch screen, Android
Four features make the Illumina XL6 an attractive option for ebook lovers who are looking for a powerful ereader device:

– Large and sharp 7.8 inch E ink screen. 300 dots per inch density means it is as sharp or sharper than printed book pages.
– The ereader is running on Android 6 operating system. This is a relatively recent version of Android software which means that a vast number of applications on the Google Play app store are available for the e-reader – although not each and every app is compatible.
– A powerful processor (for an ereader) that actually makes it possible to run many applications downloaded from the Google Play Store.
– The ereader doubles as an MP3 player, making it possible to listen to audiobooks and music.

It is likely that Kindle ebooks can be read on the Illumina XL6. The trick how to do it is to download Kindle for Android application from the Google Play Store to the device. Until we (or someone else) have tried the Kindle app on an actual production device, and confirmed it works, we can’t be absolutely sure if the Kindle app can open ebooks.

The Icarus Illumina XL6 is priced at 229.95 euros with Dutch VAT, and without VAT 190.04 euros (here you can check the vendor’s web shop for any updates on the price). Icarus ships products to all continents, but not to South America and Russia.

Icarus Illumina XL6 e-reader specifications

7.8-inch E Ink Carta HD screen.
Display resolution 1872 x 1404, 300 dots per inch (DPI).
Touch screen, adjustable frontlight.
Android 6 operating system with Google Play application store.
16GB of internal storage space.
No memory card slot.
2GB RAM.
Rockchip RK3368 octa-core, 64-bit processor.
WiFi 802.11 B/G/N.
USB 2.0.
Bluetooth.
Compatible ebook formats: PDF, FB2, EPUB, RTF, MOBI, TXT, HTML.
Plays MP3 audio files, for audiobooks and music.
Displays JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG images.
Included applications: File Manager, Music Player, Dictionary, Image Viewer, Library, Reading.
Battery 2800mAh, thousands of page refreshes at a charge.
Dimensions 145 x 200x 9mm.
Weight 275 gr.

Reading functions
Go to Page
Text Search
Bookmarks
Table of Contents
Screen Rotation
Auto Page Turning
Book Information
Music/audiobook Player
Adjust Font Size
Adjust Font Type (in EPUB documents)
Adjust Page Margins (in EPUB documents)
Install new fonts (TrueType)

Via The Digital Reader.

Product review: Wunder360 C1 camera for 360-degree travel photography

2018-08-27

Wunder360 C1 is a 360-degree camera that can record video and photographs that show everything around the camera (up and down, right and left, front and back). It is an entry-level, budget-friendly camera aimed at people who just want to snap images, perhaps apply a special effect to the image and share it. How does the Wunder360 deal with travel photography? Here is our review.

Wunder360 C1 360-degree camera
In our case, the primary application for a 360-degree camera was travel photography. Especially, taking images in spaces like a room in a castle, filming road trips, recording city or village life, recording events that are difficult to capture with one camera (e.g. Tour of France bicycle race or a parade). Now that we have tried the Wunder360 C1 camera in all these situations, we can analyse the results.

Capturing a space like a room

The camera is good at recording a space around it, especially if there is enough light in the room or in the space. We tested this in a castle, and it is fascinating how much information it is possible to discover when viewing the 360-degree photos or videos afterwards. Also, a section of, for instance, a park with plenty of objects can be easily captured. A tripod is required for the camera.

Filming road trips

We installed the camera on a tripod that was standing on the dashboard. We wanted to take advantage of the image stabilization and camera direction features. The result: not worth it. The stabilization was not good enough for us and directing the camera doesn’t work well when the camera itself is moving with the car.

Recording city or village life

Excellent results. The idea was to leave the camera in a central place, like on a statue, in a large tree or on a bench, and let it film life on the street or on a square. The camera is so small that only few, if any, passing by pedestrian noticed it (we were hiding behind the statue so that we could see the camera).

We also tried walking with the camera, letting it record crowds on a busy street and people in cafes, but it didn’t produce good video in this situation. The image stabilization can’t correct movement caused by walking.

Capturing the motion of an event

Events, like parades, races (bicycle races, motor races, triathlon), and others have a lot of movement as many things are happening at the same time. A 360-degree camera can capture everything, and the Wunder360 has a feature that lets you direct the camera where you want after recording the video. This was exactly what we wanted, and this was exactly what we got. Good results, although the video quality after exporting the material to MP4 is not very good. Also audio sounds strange. The camera was standing still on a tripod in our tests at the Tour of France.

The street price of the Wunder360 C1 varies between 150-190 euros/dollars. It is available at online stores, and also at the vendor’s homepage.

In addition to the camera, you must have a smartphone or tablet that is new and powerful enough so that it can work with those 360 videos.
Wunder360 camcorder 360-degree video recording, edit on smartphone

These are the steps for working with the Wunder360 videos

The way a 360-degree camera works is different from ordinary cameras, and naturally, the resulting images are different from images or videos taken on an ordinary camera. These are the key steps for recording a video on the Wunder360 and sharing it on social media channels.

1. Specify a Wi-Fi name for the Wunder360.
2. Choose the recording mode in Wunder360. We used high-resolution 30fps mode.
3. Download the Wunder app on your smartphone or tablet.
4. Record videos and photos in Wunder360.
5. Connect your smartphone or tablet to the Wunder360 via Wi-Fi.
6. You should see a list of photos and videos on your mobile app that are stored on the camera.
7. You can view the images and download them to your mobile device. All photos and videos are 360-degree images.
8. Downloaded videos can be edited (e.g. camera direction) in the mobile device app and exported as ordinary MP4 files (that can be further edited in a PC video editing software). Exported files are not 360-degree videos, but only show the areas you selected in the camera direction feature.

Conclusion: take it or leave it?

For our travel photography needs, the Wunder360 C1 has just enough functionality so that we will carry it along on our trips. The small and low-cost camera has a specific role in our camera bag.

This is our first 360-degree camera, and it was a surprise how different its usage and output were compared to an ordinary camera. Fortunately, we had a specific need for it, and knew what we were going to do with it. That’s the key for anyone planning to buy one: it is essential to consider the applications for the 360-degree camera and then verify it has those features.

Tour de France road cycling race passes through the village of Bossost in Pyrenees mountains.

Wunder360 key specifications

Wunder360 360-degree video camera

2 lenses. Stitching In-Camera Real-time (when you view a video or photo, it is already one 360-degree image)
Focal length/aperture f=0.94 F2.4
Sensor Type CMOS
Photo resolution 4096 x 2048
Video resolution 3040×1520 at 30fps, or 2176×1088 at 60fps
Camera settings exposure and white balance
Status display 32 x 64 pixels (for battery, Wi-Fi, recording mode info)
Free application for Apple iOS and Android devices (required for viewing, editing, and sharing images)
Livestream to Facebook and YouTube
Important features in the app: image stabilization and ability to direct the camera movement before exporting the video to MP4.
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz/5GHz
Micro USB 2.0 port
Tripod mount at the bottom
Microphone
MicroSD memory card slot
Battery 1000mAh
Weight 95g
Dimensions 109.3 x 45 x 35 mm

Bouye Likebook Note sets lower price level for 10-inch ereaders

2018-08-21

Six inches has been the standard size for e-reader devices for years, but fortunately, the situation is changing. A number of e-readers with 10-inch screen have been introduced to the markets. It means ebook users can enjoy some tablet-like features, like writing and drawing on their devices. The Bouye Likebook Note ereader comes with a 10.3-inch screen, stylus, and with a price tag that makes it very competitive.
Bouye Likebook Note, stylus for writing and drawing
Bouye may not be a familiar brand for many people, but the Chinese company has produced a few ereader devices before the Likebook Note. In essence, it is an ereader with large, very sharp E ink screen that lets you write on it. Since the device is running on Android operating system, and some early customers are saying that Google Play is factory-installed, it is possible to install additional applications from the Play Store to the Likebook Note.

The possibility to install apps from the Play Store makes the ereader similar in functionality to a tablet, although it is worth reminding that all Android apps will not run on an ereader.

The key specifications and features of the Boyue Likebook Note

Bouye Likebook Note, adjustable front light

– 10.3-inch flexible E Ink Carta screen.
– Resolution 1404×1872.
– Front light.
– Android 4.4.
– Wi-Fi.
– RAM memory 1 GB.
– Storage space 16 GB.
– MicroSD memory card slot.
– USB port.
– Bluetooth
– Audiojack.
– Stereo speakers.
– Microphone.
– Physical buttons for page turn, back and home.
– Dimensions 191 x 262 x 8 mm.
– Weight 386 grams.

All is well in the specifications department. 1 GB of RAM memory for running Android and applications is not much, but many low-cost tablets have the same amount of RAM. Another thing is that Android is quite an old version.

Other than that, the Likebook Note has plenty of features for a 10-inch ereader that costs only about 370 euros at Aliexpress online store. Stylus and case are included.

Here is a video clip that shows a few features of the Bouye Likebook Note, like the front light and writing with the stylus:

Other e-readers with 10-inch or even larger screen are, for instance:

Onyx Boox Note
Onyx Boox Max2
Sony DPT-CP1

Bouye Likebook Note e-reader comes with case
Via Ebook Reader Blog.

Five frequently asked questions that an ebook producer has to answer

2018-08-01

Large bookstores, such as the Kindle Store, Kobo, Google Play have made downloading and reading of an ebook easy for their customers. What happens before the book is available in the store, however, is a long process where the author, publisher, ebook production expert and marketing people work with the book. Since our role is to produce ebooks, and often also to publish them, we have heard a number of questions concerning ebooks. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.
cartoon character working with computer
Before we dive into the questions and answers, let’s make one thing clear about ebooks. There are two types of them: fixed and reflowable. A fixed layout ebook behaves like a printed page. The layout is exactly the same independent of the screen size you use for reading. For instance, page in an PDF document represents fixed layout: you can zoom in and out, and move up and down, or left and right to read it. If it doesn’t fit into a single screen, there is nothing you can do about it.

An ebook that has been created to have reflowable layout adjusts itself automatically to any screen size you want to use for reading. This is why it is convenient to read the same ebook on a small smartphone as well as on a large computer monitor. You can even change the font size to suit your eyesight. The magic behind this is that lines are shorter (less words) on a small screen and longer (more words) on a large screen. Because there are no fixed lines, there can not be fixed pages.

Since reflowable ebooks are far more common than fixed layout ebooks, our frequently asked questions deal with reflowable only.

Why page numbers are missing from the table of contents?

Instead of page numbers, you get links directly to chapters from the table of contents. An ebook that automatically adjusts to different screen sizes doesn’t have pages or page numbers.

Why do you want me to break my informative tables into small pieces?

It is perfectly all right to have small tables in an ebook. The problem is with large tables that may not fit on a screen horizontally or vertically. If a table doesn’t fit into a single screen, the output is unpredictable and may confuse the reader. Break large tables into small ones.

Why has the caption moved to the next page away from the image?

The image and its caption move around to allow the reader the change the font size and to read on devices with different screen sizes. Try it yourself. Change the font size and monitor how the content of the screen you are looking at changes.

The index is missing. Are you going to create it?

No. Every ereader device and reading application for mobile devices and computers has a search function that lets you search for any word you want in the book.

Why can’t you just publish the book as PDF?

Yes, we can, but … The thing is that some bookstores don’t even accept PDF books, and even if they do, readers are not happy if they try to read it on a small tablet, ereader or smartphone. PDF doesn’t adjust to screen size, but leaves it to the user to zoom in and out and to scroll sideways on every page they want to read.

Want to have an 10-inch Kindle e-reader? Here is how to get one

2018-06-18

In the early days of the Kindle ereaders, Amazon had a model with 9.7-inch E ink display. Perhaps it didn’t sell enough, or there were technical problems with the product, but it didn’t survive for long. Since then, Amazon has only been marketing 6 and 7-inch size Kindle ereaders. Many ebook lovers, however, want larger screen. Is it possible to find a 10-inch device for Kindle ebooks? Yes, it is.
Onyx Boox Note ereader 10.3 inches

Onyx Boox Note.

The trick is to find an ereader that is running on a recent version of Android operating system (version 6 or 7 is fine) that comes with the Google Play store. Then, you can open the Google Play store on the device, search for the Kindle app, and download and install the Kindle app on the ereader. That’s it. You have an ereader of any size you want where you can read Kindle ebooks.

The Ebook Reader blog has created a video where the Kindle Oasis 2 (7-inch display) and Onyx Boox Note (10.3-inch display) are compared. Because the Kindle ereader only has the Kindle app for reading, the comparison is conducted using the Kindle app on both devices.
amazon kindle oasis ereader with cover

Kindle Oasis ereader.

The fact that the Onyx Boox Note is running on Android and it lets users install applications from the Google Play store, makes it functionally more like a tablet rather than a simple ereader. You can download, for instance, a proper web browser, an app for writing notes, dictionaries, maps, perhaps even simple games.

The price of the Onyx Boox Note is about double than the price of the Oasis, but if you view the video, it is easy to understand why. The Onyx has more processing power, larger screen, it lets you install apps from the Google store, you can write and draw on the screen, among other things.
Onyx Boox Note 10.3 inch reader  for note taking, drawing

How to read Kindle ebook on a non-Kindle ereader?

View the video below for side-by-side comparison of the Kindle Oasis 2 and the Onyx Boox Note (by The Ebook Reader.com). You can see how the Kindle app and the Google Play Books reading applications run on the Onyx:

Will Amazon interfere?

Now that it has been established that Kindle ebooks can be opened in other ereaders than Kindle devices, what will Amazon do? The entire Kindle business system is built on tight control where Amazon decides where Kindle ebooks can be read. The goal is to ensure the biggest selection of ebooks is only available on Kindle devices and reading apps. The ebooks have to be purchased from Amazon Store. Well, so far, Amazon has succeeded. It is the dominant ebook business system globally.

It is obvious that Amazon doesn’t want to sell Kindle ebooks to any other ereaders than Kindle devices. Amazon may even try and prevent the Kindle app running on other ereaders. Let’s hope it doesn’t, because book lovers have more choice when Kindle ebooks are available on other ereaders as well.

Intel has created a working product concept that many ebook readers and writers want

2018-06-11

Intel is hoping more mobile device manufacturers would use its processors and other components on their products, and has created an exciting concept product to showcase the power of its processors in mobile devices. Intel Tiger Rapids is a tablet/e-reader device, or a unique laptop, that is about the size of a sturdy notebook. It can be used for reading, writing, and for all other things that tablets and ereaders are used.
Intel Tiger Rapids tablet/ereaderIntel Tiger Rapids tablet/ereader concept.

The Intel Tiger Rapids device consists of two elements: a tablet and an E Ink device that are hinged so that the device can be closed like a notebook, and opened like a laptop. The two elements can be turned so that they are back-to-back against each other.

The E Ink screen recognizes handwriting with a stylus. A virtual keyboard cab be projected on the E Ink screen, allowing typing.

The tablet side of the Tiger Rapids device has 7.9-inch LCD display. The E Ink display is 7.8 inches in size. A Kaby Lake Core processor is the engine in the device and Wi-Fi connects it to the world. A USB-C port can be used to recharge the device.

A potential problem for a device that comes with two screens is its retail price. In this case, both the LCD and E ink screens are touch sensitive, adding cost. It may be difficult to squeeze the retail priced under 500 dollars/euros, but I certainly hope a company manages to do it.

Also battery life could be a problem, but Intel told Cnet that the Tiger Rapids prototype runs for 13-15 hours which is very good. Almost two full work days before a recharge is required.

The Intel prototype is very compact in size and easy to carry along in a bag, or even in a pocket of a winter jacket. For typing on a virtual keyboard (in this case, on the E ink screen), a 10-inch screen – or even larger – would be better. 10 inches is probably the sweet spot considering product price, usability for work (and leisure) and portability.

Here is a video by Engadget where a reporter makes a brief hands-on test to the Intel Tiger Rapids.

The Apple iPad 9.7-inch 2018 model with Pencil as a writer’s tool

2018-05-21

The Apple iPad tablet is a familiar product for many writers and book lovers because of the ibooks application, and other apps on the tablet. Recently, Apple made the 2018 model of the 9.7-inch iPad compatible with the Pencil stylus that allows writing and drawing directly on the screen. How does the iPad help writers at their work?
Apple iPad 9.7 Pencil, woman drawing
During 2018, several new products have addressed the same scenario: a compact portable computer with a long battery life that allows people who read plenty of documents or books to read and to annotate those documents. Writing and drawing may have their own applications, but typically, the devices let users annotate directly on the document that is displayed on the screen.

It is now possible to choose between a tablet or an ereader that allows writing directly on the screen. The iPad 9.7 inch with Pencil represents tablets, and for instance, Remarkable, Sony DPT-CP1 and Onyx Boox Max 2 are ereaders that have a large screen and allow writing.

The interesting thing is that the 9.7 inch Apple iPad with Pencil costs less than the ereaders that come with a stylus. The start price for the iPad 9.7-inch 2018 is USD 329 plus USD 99 for the Pencil (total USD 428).
Apple iPad 9.7 tablet with Pencil stylus
In addition to writing and drawing directly on the screen, the stylus makes it easier to:

Select text
Move objects and text blocks
Highlight text
Annotate and mark documents

It depends on the application you are using which features the Apple Pencil has. The applications Apple has designed and included with the iPad have all the possible features whereas non-Apple apps may allow a subset of features.

Handwriting on the iPad screen with the Pencil feels different than writing with a pen on paper. The glass screen of the iPad and the plastic tip of the stylus establish a hard contact that may feel strange at first. Nonetheless, after a little practice, writing on the screen produces a result that everyone easily can recognize as your handwriting.

Many features are available for handwriting, like line thickness and shading. They can be achieved by tilting or holding the Pencil in a slightly different angle. For drawing, the iPad 9.7 inch 2018 model and the Pencil has many options. Artists and designers can use the tablet and the stylus for quickly drafting sketches. Also writers can easily draft schemas, symbols, and block diagrams that complement written notes.
Apple iPad 9.7 inch 2018, Pencil sketch message

Apple iPad or a 10-inch screen ereader?

A tablet is a multipurpose device. It is really a computer without a physical keyboard – and the iPad happens to be a very powerful computer. Writers who want a compact mobile computer for their research trips should find a tablet a useful tool. Having documents, notes, drafts, and sketches on the tablet and backed up to the cloud is valuable during a project.

Ereaders were originally designed for reading ebooks alone, but since the sharp grayscale screen and long battery life has converted many people to ereader users, companies like Sony and Onyx have designed devices that can be used for writing as well. Although it is possible to write on ereaders, like the Sony DPT-CP1 and Onyx Boox Max 2, they are still ereaders first. Still, writing and drawing on the screen of an ereader can be even more comfortable than on a tablet.

A review of the Apple iPad 9.7-inch with Pencil

Nathan of The Ebook Reader blog has recorded a balanced overview and comparison of the iPad against ereaders. Here is the video.

Apple iPad 9.7-inch 2018 model with Pencil key features and specifications

9.7-inch (diagonal) display with IPS technology. 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution (264 ppi, pixels per inch).
Display works with the Apple Pencil stylus.
A10 Fusion chip, 64-bit architecture. M10 coprocessor.
Rear camera: 8-megapixels, autofocus, panorama (up to 43 megapixels), HDR, exposure control, burst mode, timer, ƒ/2.4 aperture. 1080p HD video recording, slow‑motion at 120 fps, time-lapse, video stabilization.
Front camera: 1.2-megapixel photos, ƒ/2.2 aperture,720p HD video recording.
Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth 4.2
Cellular models can connect to 3G and 4G mobile networks.
GPS and Glonass satellite location.
Fingerprint sensor.
Operating system iOS 11.
Apple Pay.
Siri voice control system.
AirPlay connection to Apple TV.
Height: 9.4 inches / 240 mm, width: 6.6 inches / 169 mm, depth: 0.29 inch / 7.5 mm, weight: 1.05 pounds / 478 g.
Lithium-Polymer battery allows up to 10 hours of web, video and music over Wi-Fi connection.

Is the Sony DPT-CP1 ereader/writing tablet a tool for writers?

2018-04-23

People who read a lot tend to find ereader devices useful because the screen is visible even in sunlight and it doesn’t flicker. Writers have to read plenty of books and other texts. If an ereader existed that would allow using it for writing as well, wouldn’t it be a perfect tool for writers? Let’s see – Sony has introduced a device labeled DPT-CP1 that does exactly that.
Sony DPT-CP1 e-reader / writing tablet
Two key features make the Sony DPT-CP1 different from other ereader devices: it has a large 10.3-inch screen and it is possible to write and draw directly on the display using an included stylus. Well, there is a third factor that makes it different: the device can only open PDF documents.

How could writers make their works easier with a device like this? Nothing beats a keyboard when writing, but during the research phase of a project, Sony’s device could help.

My experience is that research activities produce documents that are saved on a computer’s hard drive, handwritten notes, photos, audio files, email messages, paper documents, and books. If I would use some time to convert all those text-based documents into PDF files, and transfer them to the Sony DPT-CP1, I would have a beautiful research library in one place. Then, reading and annotating the documents would be easy.
writing with stylus on Sony DPT-CP1 ereader
Sony has positioned the DPT-CP1 as an office device for professionals who can carry stacks of documents along in the device instead of carrying physical papers in a briefcase.

Other products that have been designed to be used in a similar way – reading and annotating documents – are the Sony DPT-RP1, Remarkable paper tablet, Onyx Boox Max 2 and Onyx Boox 96.
Sony DPT-CP1 as a large screen ereader (10.3 inches)

Sony DPT-CP1 key features and specifications

– 10.3 inch grey-scale screen. Touch sensitive (capacitive).
– Stylus for handwriting or drawing directly on the screen.
– Screen resolution 1404×1872, 227 dots per inch (DPI)
– Wi-Fi
– Bluetooth
– NFC
– Marvell(R)IAP140 64-bit Quad-core IoT Applications Processor
– Storage space 16GB
– USB port.
– Opens PDF documents only.
– Digital paper application for Windows, Macos, Android and iOS.
– Dimensions 174.2 × 243.5 × 5.9 mm
– Weight 240 gr.

The Sony DPT-CP1 ereader/writing tablet is available in Japan in June 2018, and after that it is expected to ship to other markets. The price in Japan is about USD 650.
Sony DPT CP1 for reading and annotating PDF documents

Talk to Books artificial intelligence service finds good reads from Google Books

2018-04-16

Google has many projects where the company develops artificial intelligence services for tasks that some day will help both businesses and daily life of ordinary people. One of Google’s research projects, Talk to Books, can help book readers and writers to find a good read they perhaps didn’t know existed.

Google AI service: Talk to Books, home screen
In a nutshell, here is how Talk to Books online service works at the moment. Type a sentence that describes the problem you have or what you are looking for. It is important to type a sentence, not keywords alone. The principle how Talk to Books works is different from a search engine that only finds matches for keywords.

The big difference and big promise of artificial intelligence (AI) software is that it can, to a certain extent, determine meanings. With Talk to Books, the AI system breaks the typed sentences into vectors using a hierarchy of parameters. The system has been trained and is supposed to develop further with time. Google Research Blog explains the method in more detail.

Once the AI system behind Talk to Books has determined what you want, it searches 100,000 books in Google library, looking for content that discusses the theme you are concerned with. Then, the service spits out its suggestions to you.
Google Talk to Books answers questions with books
I tried Talk to Books. The first questions I asked were relatively short. I received poor answers. Then I wrote longer descriptions what I wanted, and lo and behold, I got answers that I actually could use (like, I logged on to a bookstore to see if a suggested book was available as an ebook – it was so interesting).
Google Talk to Books artificial intelligence service finds books
As Ray Kurzweil, a visionary and technology pioneer, who now works for Google, said responses from Talk to Books may surprise you. The system can find something you didn’t know existed but is relevant for your question.

This is obviously one of the first steps in using artificial intelligence in a way that directly helps writers and readers. I would expect that the system is built so that it improves its answers as users feed in more questions. Of course, if Google expands the catalog of books that provide answers, they improve as well. For instance, travel related questions are not worth asking at the moment.

Consider your privacy, however, when you ask questions from a Google service.

How to read ebooks without installing any additional applications on your PC

2018-03-26

Recently, one of my neighbors asked how she could read the ebook she had bought from a store. She had managed to download the book, but there was no way to open it. As many of us do in a hurry to start reading a new book, she had simply ignored all the prompts to download an ebook reader application to her device. Well, the problem was quickly solved once we installed a reader application for her. Microsoft has taken a step towards easier ebook experience by including ebook reading into the Edge browser application.

The thing is that every Windows 10 computer comes with the Microsoft Edge browser application that includes the feature to read ebooks.

ebook table of content in Mircosoft Edge browser
If your Microsoft Edge can not open EPUB ebooks, ensure your system has received all the security and feature updates from Microsoft.

This is how you can instantly verify if Microsoft Edge browser on your computer can open ebooks.

Open File Explorer.
Locate the EPUB ebook you want to open on your device.
Right-click on the EPUB file.
Select Open with.
Select Microsoft Edge. If it is not on the list, click Choose another app, and look for Edge.

The ebook should open in a tab in the Microsoft Edge application. If the book doesn’t open, the chances are that you are trying to read a copy-protected (DRM-locked) ebook. The rule of thumb is that ebooks bought and downloaded from a bookstore are copy-protected (you can always read them in the app the store provides), but free ebooks are not locked (and can be read in any EPUB ebook app). Kindle ebooks are a different story altogether, but the rule of thumb is that you can read them only in Kindle devices and apps.

In addition to non-DRM, not copy-protected ebooks you can download ebooks from the Microsoft Store to the Edge browser. It is still early days for ebooks on the Microsoft Store, which means that ebooks are not yet available in many countries at all.

Once you have an ebook in the Microsoft Edge, you can use the following useful features as you read a book.

Open the table of contents and jump to a page you want. Click the leftmost icon on the black bar above the book.
read aloud (TTS) in Microsoft Edge
Let the application read the book aloud to you. Click the loudspeaker icon on the black bar above the book.
highlight, make notes in ebook in Windows 10 Edge browser
Highlight or underline text. Select a section of text, and a small tool window opens up. You can also write notes that are attached to the position you selected.
change ebook font size in Windows 10 reader app Edge
Change font and font size. Choose A-icon, and you will see the options.
search any text in ebook in Edge browser EPUB reader in Windows 10
Search any text in a book. Click the magnifying glass and type your keywords.
Bookmark pages.

Especially, read aloud is a useful new feature in an ebook reading app. You can turn an EPUB ebook into an audiobook simply by asking the Edge browser to read it to you. At the moment, three voices are available for choosing which one pleases your ears the most. Edge can read web pages as well, so you can listen to articles you discover on the internet.

Books have destroyed our civilization multiple times if we believe the wise men of the past

2018-03-19

There is nothing better than laughing at mistakes other people have made. BBC put together an infographic with famous predictions gone wrong. Here are the highlights from the compilation that relate to books and communication technologies.
clip art cartoon: old man with papyrus and young man with mobile phone and computer
Circa 370 B.C.
Socrates predicted that the written word will destroy our memories. Men will cease to exercise memory because they rely on what is written.
Yet, the world can remember what he said because Plato wrote it down.

1492
Monk Johannes Trithemius wasn’t happy about the new innovation: printing press. He worried about the future of his profession because Gutenberg had invented a machine that could print books. Monks who earned a living as scribes had to find something else to do.

1545
Swiss scholar Conrad Gesner worried that too many books in the world is perilous. Confusing and harmful abundance of books seriously bothered him.

1685
More than hundreds year later, after many books had surely been printed with new machines, French scholar Adrien Baillet wrote that he had a reason to fear that a multitude of books would drive humankind into barbarous state.

1879
A new invention, telephone, had arrived in England where the Head of the Post Office regarded the new device useless. Relaying messages with the help of messenger boys was the proper way to communicate for him.

1883
Just like books used to be a threat to powerful people in ancient times, because ordinary people could actually learn something, public education was seen as a threat at the end of the 19th century. New York Medical Journal warned that public education would exhaust the children’s brains and nervous systems.

1929
Telephone continued its inevitable conquest across the world, and was seen as a threat to the society. San Francisco Catholic Adult Education Committee worried: does the telephone break up home life and the old practice of visiting friends?

1936
Another relatively new invention, radio, was too much for the music magazine Gramophone. Children have developed the habit of dividing attention between the humdrum preparation of their school assignments and the compelling excitement of the loudspeaker, the magazine concluded.

1959
Although there were not many computers in the entire world at the time, mathematician I.J.Good believed in artificial intelligence (AI). He thought all work could be handed over to machines in 10-30 years.

1964
Arthur C. Clarke, one of the most successful science-fiction authors, predicted the rise of remote work and digital nomads accurately. He even got the popular nomad destination, Bali, right. Clarke thought that in 50 years, we can work remotely.

1975
The buzzword Paperless Office appeared on an article in BusinessWeek. Well, it is kind of happening now. The magazine article predicted that all office information would be digital by 1990. The consumption of paper, however, started to decrease in US offices in 2001.

1995
Robert Metcalfe, one of the pioneers of the Internet estimated that the network will catastrophically collapse in 1996. He had to eat his words in 1997 in front of an audience where he mixed his column into water and drank it.

The list of false predictions is endless. It is only the predictions by famous people that went horribly wrong which will live long after the world has moved on. It is also easy to find parallels between ancient and recent studies and research papers that conclude how evil a new invention is.

How many times have I seen the story that reading a book from a screen rots our brains. How many children have been doomed to damnation because they use social media. How many times has it been proved that only the “smell of book” and “holding a book” improves learning when studying something – instead of reading an ebook. How many studies indicate that the Internet is destroying our memories.

All right, I will make one prediction. Now that audiobooks and voice control are growing strongly, the backlash will be in 2019: no one can learn by listening to a book, you have to read it.